Student Writing Assessment

Assessment Criteria

The criteria below represent essential elements of any successful, argument-driven academic essay. However, the overarching, encompassing feature of any successful writing process is the prevalence of rigorous, thoughtful revision, which reimagines and reworks any—and likely all—of the criteria listed below.

Central Claim 
The central claim is a debatable, complex stance or position that establishes your argument for an intended audience. Your high school teacher might have called this a “thesis statement.” You should further explore, support, and advance the central claim or “set of ideas” throughout the composition (the word “composition” represents both an essay or multimodal project). The central claim is the foundation upon which you build the essay or multimodal project and which you use to drive the discussion forward. Successful compositions consistently demonstrate attention to and focus on the central claim. 

Development 
An effective argumentative essay or multimodal project integrates evidence and analysis into an extended discussion that engages in sustained and expanded conversation. Effective development uses examples and evidence from other writers, primary and outside sources, scholarly and popular research, anecdotes, and lived experience. Effective development means going beyond listing examples by exploring the implications of the central claim and taking your audience through the building of your ideas. 

Analysis
Analysis is the innovative heart of a composition where you synthesize the connections and relationships between texts, ideas, evidence, and the central claim. Analysis explores and answers the questions “So what?” or “How?” or “Why?” These questions push you as the writer to offer reasons for the connections between ideas and available supporting evidence. The most successful analysis affirms and furthers the central claim by demonstrating its complexity and significance. 

Organizational
Two main criteria define organization: (1) a core argument that is presented consistently throughout the essay and (2) subclaims, supported by logically connected and structured paragraphs, that move through the argument as it is developed and substantiated. The organizational logic of a composition relies on a series of subclaims designed to support and advance the central claim. The composition moves from one subclaim into another in a cohesive way. You may have in the past used the word “flow” to describe this movement and cohesiveness. With good “flow” the progression of ideas makes sense to readers as they follow your argument. In a composition with effective organization, each subclaim builds on what comes before it and transitions smoothly to the next in a logical progression.

Clarity of Prose 
A successful essay demonstrates clarity of prose, which requires proficiency with English grammar, usage, and mechanics, as well as MLA formatting and citations. Such proficiency may also involve varied sentence structure, accurate word choices, and careful proofreading that serve the rhetorical purpose you are exploring.

Revision
Adrienne Rich defines revision as a process of “re-seeing”: you make some new discovery or build further on an existing idea in ways that ultimately create a more sophisticated, expanded, and complicated composition. You successfully accomplish this level of revision by making decisions about the feedback and responses you receive from peers and instructors; ultimately you must incorporate, interpret, and translate this feedback in productive ways that reshape the original composition. 

Benchmark Language

 

WRIT 105

*A* papers present powerful, engaging arguments and central claims. In an A paper, the writer’s central claim is clear and yet also complex and sophisticated. The central claim and core ideas of the essay are supported by compelling evidence, logical reasoning, and analysis. Relevant sources are integrated and documented appropriately. The essay is highly readable because it is organized for the reader’s ease of understanding, and the paragraphs and sentences are clearly, articulately written and enhance the overall effectiveness of the essay.

*B* papers present strong central claims and arguments that are well supported with evidence, logic, and analysis. Relevant sources are integrated and documented appropriately. The essay is organized appropriately and the prose is clear though it likely does not have the articulateness of an “A” paper.

*C* papers present central claims and arguments that a reader can follow but that may be only partially supported by evidence and examples. Organizational focus and analysis may be weak, suggesting that significant revision is needed. Often there is evidence that the author has either misread or only superficially read the text or sources under analysis; sources may not be integrated well or documented appropriately. The prose is generally readable, though sentences are not always clear and errors are sometimes distracting. 

*D* papers are either unsuccessful in presenting central claims and arguments, or present arguments that are essentially unsupported. D papers may vary in length, but the paragraphs are frequently organized in a way that confuses rather than guides readers. External sources are often not present or well-integrated; sources are likely not documented correctly. Papers that are written in prose that is confusing will receive Ds, though not all D papers will have confusing prose.

*F* papers are unsuccessful in presenting and supporting arguments, either because they contain no central claims or, if they do, these claims are poorly developed. Essays are organized and written in a confusing manner, and prose is often inaccessible for the reader. Sources are typically not documented at all or not documented correctly. Often the essay does not meet the expectations outlined in the assignment.

WRIT 106

*A* papers present powerful, engaging arguments and central claims that present the author’s original interpretations of literary texts. In an A paper, the writer’s central claim is clear and yet also complex and sophisticated. The central claim and core ideas of the essay are supported by compelling evidence, logical reasoning, and analysis. The author demonstrates sophisticated close reading of the text(s), appropriately documented and integrated external research, and a clear understanding of relevant literary genres. The essay is highly readable because it is organized for the reader’s ease of understanding, and the paragraphs and sentences are clearly, articulately written and enhance the overall effectiveness of the essay.

*B* papers present strong central claims and arguments that are well supported with evidence, logic, and analysis. The author demonstrates close reading of the text(s), appropriately documented and integrated external research, and a clear understanding of relevant literary genres. The essay is organized appropriately and the prose is clear though it likely does not have the articulateness of an “A” paper.

*C* papers present central claims and arguments that a reader can follow but that may be only partially supported by evidence and examples. Organizational focus and analysis may be weak, suggesting that significant revision is needed. Often there is evidence that the author has either misread or only superficially read the text or sources under analysis; the author may lack familiarity with relevant literary genres and sources may not be properly documented. The prose is generally readable, though sentences are not always clear and errors are sometimes distracting. 

*D* papers are either unsuccessful in presenting central claims and arguments, or present arguments that are essentially unsupported. D papers may vary in length, but the paragraphs are frequently organized in a way that confuses rather than guides readers. The essay lacks close reading and familiarity with appropriate literary genres; external research is likely not incorporated as appropriate and documentation is often incorrect. Papers that are written in prose that is confusing will receive Ds, though not all D papers will have confusing prose.

*F* papers are unsuccessful in presenting and supporting arguments, either because they contain no central claims or, if they do, these claims are poorly developed. Essays are organized and written in a confusing manner, and prose is often inaccessible for the reader. Often the essay does not meet the expectations outlined in the assignment.